The Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA) requires that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) receive input from affected small businesses before proposed rules are published. This requirement is in addition to the other mandates of the Regulatory Flexibility Act.
When an EPA or OSHA proposal is expected to have a significant impact on a substantial number of small entities, the agency must notify the Office of Advocacy. Advocacy then recommends small-entity representatives to be consulted on the rule and its effects.
The agency then convenes a Small Business Advocacy Review Panel, consisting of officials from the agency, the Small Business Administration's(SBA) chief counsel for advocacy, and the Office of Management and Budget's(OMB) Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. The interagency panel reviews the draft proposed rule and the related analysis prepared by the agency. In addition, the panel collects advice from identified small business representatives and submits a report to the agency within 60 days.
Panel reports often include comments on the agency's preliminary analysis of the impact of the rule on small businesses, and recommendation for regulatory alternatives. The agency reviews the report, makes any appropriate revisions to the rule, and publishes the proposed rule with the panel report as part of the record.
The panel process takes place in the early stages of the rule making. It does not replace, but enhances, the important step of the publishing the proposed rule and accompanying economic analysis for public comment.